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Welcome to the family, Homo Naledi!

The formal introduction of Homo Naledi was a welcome piece of excellent news in a time when most South Africans are numbed by bad news from every quarter. The news about Homo Naledi affirms the fact that South Africa was probably the true Cradle of Mankind. The thoroughness and extreme effort put in by South African scientists over the past few years confirm the fact that we are still world leaders in many different fields.

But Professor Lee Berger, leader of the scientific team concerning Homo Naledi, had an ace up his sleeve! Women!

Women! What do women have do do with it all?

Everything! Without women this fabulous find would never have seen the headlines all over the world. Without brave, courageous women there would not be a bone fragment to examine. Oh, don’t forget skinny and small. Here is the story. It turns out that the cave where the fossil remains of Homo Naledi resided was extremely difficult to reach. Only very small and skinny people could traverse the long vertical chute, at places only 18 centimeters wide, into the Rising Star Cave, where the fossils were to be found.

When he realized his dilemma, Professor Lee Berger posted a Facebook advertisement. He was looking for small, skinny people. They must have no issue with claustrophobia and the must be fit. They must have climbing and caving experience. They must preferably have experience in the field of Palaeontology. They must be available to drop everything immediately and report to the site. They must be willing to work for next to nothing and they must be willing to live for some time in primitive conditions.

Wow! With all those restricting criteria one would think that Professor Berger got nothing but some ridicule and good-natured giggles. No, not so. More than 60 people applied almost immediately. Women. All of them. And so it came to be that Homo Naledi owes its well-deserved world wide fame to six skinny, highly talented, driven women who knows how to camp and to crawl through some really narrow spaces. The Naledi in Homo Naledi means “star” in Sotho but perhaps the real stars are those six women. We salute you!

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